In the Appalachian Mountains rests a medical oddity so unusual that it seems like a massive hoax. Dating back to the early 1800’s an isolated family in eastern Kentucky, who can trace their roots back to a French orphan, strangely started producing children who had blue skin. Now that is bizarre! This was a result of a coincidental meeting of recessive genes, intermarriage and inbreeding which lead to the Fugate family being born with a rare condition that made their skin visibly discoloured.
The mystery behind the astonishing picture of the Fugate family, that has confused people for many years, appears to have been solved. It began when Martin Fugate settled on the banks of Eastern Kentucky’s Troublesome Creek where he was able to claim a land grant in the early 19th century. Martin married a red headed American named Elizabeth Smith, who had a very pale complexion and their union formed a genetic mutation that resulted in their children being born with the unique blue skin. Looking at the picture of the family it appears as if they have been photo-shopped or made to mimic characters for the children’s film Smurfs, but that was not the case as science proves that the condition is actually real.
This extremely rare condition is called methaemoglobinaemia but it is most commonly known as met-H, which is the way I prefer to say it… obviously. The condition reduces the individual’s ability to carry oxygen in their blood, as a result their blood is darker than the typical colour found running through peoples veins.
In 1980 a counter intuitive solution was discovered, the solution was made for people with the met-H condition to drink and was filled with chemicals. This solution gives the carrier’s blood a ‘normal’ red hue which is then reflected in a change of skin tone. Because of the dispersion of fluids the solution only lasts about a day so the carrier would have to drink a serving a day.
As eastern Kentucky has become vastly more populated than it was in the 19th century and so more genes are married into the Fugate family tree, there were fewer children born with the condition. That being said the recessive met-H gene lingers to this day but it is statistically insignificant now.
What would you do if you had the met-H gene? Would you take the solution to be classed as ‘normal’?